Our intention was to set up a base camp and chill out for a few days. I'm plucking away at the keys for the blog this morning and get distracted by the NPS website for Mojave. Hey it happens to everyone. Had one of those "oooooo something shiny" moments and forgot what I was supposed to be doing. A little ADD is good sometimes. Without it we wouldn't be making a the plan for the day. We've got a Jeep... and there is a lava tube down a 3 mile sand road. Katie throws together some gross sandwich that consists of strawberries, sour cream, and brown sugar. Let's hit it.
As the days tumble by I have really began to form a bond with Shirley. She's old and squeaky. The suspension makes a terrible racket over bumps, and steering might as well be attached to a rudder on a sailboat. Put those things aside and she has taken us everywhere we want to go. There's something marvelous about a simple and reliable machine. With the kayaks left behind and the A/C on we regularly average 17 mpg. That is a pretty decent figure for highway, city and bombing through the desert in 4wd at 30 mph. She's got no issue with climbing hills at nearly 30 degrees and clearing rocks 8 inches tall on a regular basis. No complaints.
The first landmark guiding us down the unmarked dirt road is the horse corral. Abandoned remnants of days gone by. Miners used these stables 100 years ago to park their horses in between prospecting and traveling. It's as reminder of just how lucky we are to be living with modern technology.
Driving off to the left at the fork, the old girl delivers once more and drops us off at the parking lot for a lava tube. A quick whistle for the dog and he bounds out of the jeep for another adventure. Eli never gets tired of smelling new things, and then instantly peeing on the. It's as if you can hear his thoughts "Yeah... this is mine now". We precariously help the dog down the steep steel stairs and descend into the lava tube.
The expert scientists of the area have put an age on the lava flow to be somewhere between 10,000-7 million years old. Wow. Really narrowed that down.
Nature culminates all its elements together to display beams of light passing into the underground.
Our trip to the lava tubes is short lived. This rocky land is covered in sharp lava stones. Not good for dog feet. We slowly tread our way back 1/3 of a mile to Shirley and head down the road again. Another detour is taken and we veer off onto Indian Springs Trail Road. The twisting ribbon of sand is home to the Rainy Day Mine Camp. At the end of the road it gets rough. Too rough. We have to know when to call it quits. Sure Shirley should be able to make the climb, but we are managers of risk. No other trucks are here to bail us out if something were to break. The convoy of one turns around and heads back to home. On the way out we stop for a quick photo-op of an old lava flow.
Off in the distance you'll see Katie perched high atop the rocky outcrop. We don't always exercise sound judgement on the road. Think about it. We are 3 miles from a paved road and another 15 from the nearest hospital. No health insurance, no friends, no common sense. That's how we roll.
Bumbling back home we pass a grove of Joshua Trees. These are some wild looking life forms. It's amazing anything can even grow out here. We're feeling the effects of the 1% humidity and heat. Our bodies are shriveling up and we have been pounding water bottles like they're free beer at a Saturday night party. Regardless these relentless desert beings find a way to thrive.
The rest of the afternoon passes by with a few little chores and trivial things that need to get done. When all is said and done we take a breather and light a fire under the falling sun.
Darkness sets in quick around here. By 1900 it's pitch black out and the sky illuminates with a miriad of stars. Unfortunately our phones can't capture the image of what we see. Thousands of little dots litter the horizon. The big dipper is easy to find with it's little dipper brother just off it's northern tip. Some old native american tribal music is queued up on Pandora and we drift off in our thoughts gazing at the stars.